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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Kálfshamarsvík basalt column cove

Updated: Dec 27, 2022


The old lighthouse at Kálfshamarsvík cove
The old lighthouse at Kálfshamarsvík cove

Kálfshamarsvík is a small and beautiful cove on the northwest shore of the Skagi Peninsula in the northwest region of Iceland, between Skagafjörður fjord and the large Húnaflói bay. The main attraction at Kálfshamarsvík Cove is the unusual and stunning formation of basalt columns at the shoreline in the bay as well as the surrounding area. The interesting part about the basalt column in the bay is that the horizontal layers of the stacks are sometimes bent and sometimes straight. In addition to the basalt column by the coast, there are interesting convex pebble rocks of many sizes. However, to be able to explore all the varieties along this remarkable shoreline, you need to walk around the area and along the small cliffs around the lighthouse. Since it is not a popular or crowded place, you walk on the grass, and there are only a few tracks. The larger cove is also a spectacular sight, where the ocean meets the amazingly shaped rocks and small cliffs, and is often quite lively with birdlife in summer.

Map of North West Region in Iceland
Map of North West Region in Iceland

The Cove and photography

Kálfshamarsvík bay
Kálfshamarsvík bay

The Kálfshamarsvík Cove is of particular interest to photographers because the area offers a variety of vantage points with captivating views, foregrounds, and backdrops. When photographing, keep in mind that, as in so many locations along the shore in Iceland, the high and low tides and time of day play a role. In the morning, the sun shines on the cliffs from the ocean side throughout the afternoon and the bright summer evening. The shoreline south of the beach is also fascinating on your left when driving the last part to the parking lot and lighthouse. There, you also see sizeable vertical basalt columns above the curved rocks. Walking the beach is a bit difficult, and here is a great idea: have a drone.


Kálfshamarsvík could have developed into a village

Bautiful basalt column formation at Kálfshamarsvík
Bautiful basalt column formation at Kálfshamarsvík

In addition to their proximity to rich fishing grounds and a good landing place for small boats, the majority of towns and villages in Iceland share the same locational characteristics. This was especially important at a time before motorboats arrived and when the deprived and less fortunate part of the population was finding new employment options in fishing and people were leaving the compulsive obligation of domestic service in agriculture. Kálfshamarsvík evolved into a small fishing station and a tiny hamlet, much like the beautiful Dritvík at Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This was in the late 19th century and lasted only until the great depression and the decline of markets in the middle of the 20th century. The premise was very much the same, as it applies to many towns and villages around Iceland and could have developed into a village. At Kálfshamarsvík, there are still ruins of houses and artifacts from that era.


Easy access but a long drive to Kálfshamarsvík

The cove at Kálfshamarsvík
The cove at Kálfshamarsvík

Kálfshamarsvík is easily accessible from Northern Iceland's Ring Road or the North Region of Iceland. It is on my list of the ten most interesting basalt column places in Iceland. From that road, you take a turn north on Road 74, and the drive is approximately 36 kilometers. So, if you are a great fan of basalt columns, the 72-kilometer journey to Kálfshamarsvík and back is well worth it.


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